It goes without saying George Town MLA Kenneth Bryan leads a very busy life, but he still finds time for his garden. He was brought up with a love of growing plants and flowers and vegetables, and it has never left him, he says. But he loves flowers especially, and bright, beautiful flames of color light up his garden like a magical fire.
He has only lived in this house in George Town for four years, so most of the plants, and especially the fruit trees, are still very young. But Mr. Bryan is planning carefully for the future, and his garden is not too crowded with trees, so that there will need plenty of space to grow when they get bigger. As he showed me around, we started in the neat front garden, where it was good to see fruit trees and ornamental plants all mixed up together.
Mr. Bryan is especially passionate about growing Canna Lilies: “They are very beautiful flowers and they bloom all year round and have a variety of different colors and sizes and heights,” he said. Right next door to one is a little pomegranate tree, with some tiny round pomegranates already on it. There is a little lime tree, too, with a few bright green limes on it, and a bougainvillea, very small, but already crimson flowers play about the leaves, like flames in in a burning bush. There are some other lilies too, pink and white and yellow.
In the back garden, many of the boarders are raised up a few inches about the lawn, using long wooden strips of wood to support the sides, and demarcate them from the lawn. Mr. Bryan says he uses fertilizer, but tries to keep everything he does as natural as possible, and would like to begin composting, too, sometime in the future. Here are more canna lilies: “Once they have bloomed, then you cut it out and another one shoots up,” he says.
As we move along a border, there are some young avocado trees, and a tall slender sweetsop tree. Sweetsops possess anti-cancer properties, he said. Next in line are some Bird of Paradise flowers, which are large and spectacular. They are growing next to some lovely ferns. Mr. Bryant likes to work with nature, by planting the flowers that like water in the area of the garden that tends to get most water.
“This is a Custard Apple tree, I planted this about six months ago but it hasn’t given me any blossoms yet. Sometimes I try to cross pollinate them myself, but it’s not easy. That is why the bees are so important,” he said.
There is a nice, neat raised bed full of herbs – fever grass, basil, chives, mint… “Depending on the season we put tomatoes and peppers in there too,” he said. When the basil goes to seed he plants it straight away. “Fever grass is also known as lemongrass, and you boil it. I add a bit of mint, and I drink it most mornings. It is what I grew up on,” he said, although he said that for him it was also very useful for a herb used in cooking. Of course, good fruit trees need good soil, and Mr. Bryan explained about how he prepares the ground for his fruit trees. “Whenever people do development, they usually go in and they fill the soil with marl. Marl is not very fertile soil for plants. There a sink-hole here – I got a guy with a back-hoe to come and dig that out, and replace it with topsoil,” he said.
Talking about the continuing significance of backyard gardening in today’s world, Mr. Bryan said: “Production has seemingly taken away the role of self-sufficiency from the human being and now that you have generations who don’t provide for themselves because of production, that puts you in a situation where if that production stops, you can’t survive. There are so many concerns about the negative effects of these produced items that they sell to people, either having bad chemicals or genetically modified things in them. The only things that you can truly trust are the things that you grow yourself. It gives you good stress relieve as well, and gives you good values as a family,” he said.